COP26: Consumer Impacts and Climate Change

As consumers it’s important that we see the connection between our choices and their impact on the environment. Consumers are responsible for 60-70% of all direct and indirect emissions.

While It is important to keep in mind that this impact varies, depending on income level (research suggests there is at least a 10-fold difference in carbon footprint between low- and high-income households) we all need to be mindful about what we buy and use all goods in a way that matches our climate ambitions – particularly if your household spends $38,000 or more annually. According to Global Demographics, a household qualifies as high-income globally, when it makes $38,000 or more annually.

Clearly, consumer action is not the only way of mitigating climate change, and we will need all possible efforts and improvements from governments and industries. However, as households are responsible for two-thirds of all direct and indirect emissions, consumers need to be a big part of this change.

Meaningful action on climate change will only be achieved by the positive choices we choose to make – as businesses, governments, or individuals. Without changing our everyday actions, we will not be able to reduce our emissions to the degree that we need to.

One Green Zone panel, Changing Consumer Behaviour, used evidence – from academia and consumer insights – to discuss how companies, brands and policymakers can harness behavioral science to influence consumers to go greener and make more sustainable choices. Another from earlier in the week, How Your Wallet Could Save the World, looks at how our dollars can help tackle the climate crisis or fan the flames. 

As people of faith these consumer choices are a reflection of our faith values as well as the value we place on the environment. For further reflection on consumer choices, check out:

Considering our Treasure: A Reflection on Embracing God’s Economy
Lent 4.5 available through the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard
The No Impact Project
Responsible Purchasing
What can consumers do to help solve the climate change crisis?

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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